City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday to extend the Urban Enterprise Zone for an additional five years.
According to a city memorandum, the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Zone was established in 1992 to promote investment and economic activity in urban areas in the city. The zone is an area north, west and south of downtown Bloomington where businesses and residents are eligible for scholarships, grants and tax incentives. The amendment passed 7-1, with Councilmember Stephen Volan being the single no vote. Councilmember Matt Flaherty was absent from the vote.
Volan said while the board of Urban Enterprise and Development, which oversees the Urban Enterprise Zone, does good things for the community, he was voting no to send a message about his discontent over the way Mayor John Hamilton has handled the Community Redevelopment Economic Districts.
“This is hypocrisy. Plain and simple,” Volan said. “And I lay it squarely on the shoulders of Mayor Hamilton, who could have done more and didn’t.”
Andrea de la Rosa, assistant director of small business development, said businesses in the zone can receive a 10-year property tax deduction if they invest in the zone, like purchasing or rehabilitating a building. This helps economic activity in the zone. She said 20 percent of savings generated by the deduction flow to the Urban Enterprise Association to support its programs.
Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith praised the program and said it reflected the community’s values.
“The diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism training scholarship for businesses, the security and safety, grants for small businesses, the accessibility modification grants, the arts grants and historic preservation facade grants,” Piedmont-Smith said. “These all reflect what we hold as valuable in our community.”
The extension will begin Jan. 1, 2024, and will last until Dec. 31, 2028.